Life Update


Hey blog world! It’s been a while since I last posted, but I’m back! I would have written more but Christmas is a super busy time of year and to top it all off my laptop was in for repairs as it was constantly freezing and randomly shutting down (don’t you just love technology!) Now, I’m back! A lot has happened lately, so I thought I’d bring you up to speed on what’s been going on!

Christmas. as I said was a busy time. Busy, but lots of fun! I spent several days in the kitchen baking treats! Mom usually does the Christmas baking, but because she was working and had no time this year, I volunteered to do it for her since I would be home all day almost every day. I was looking forward to spending time in the kitchen! I love to bake, but haven’t had much time to do so recently. I made a few old favorites, snowballs and peanut butter mice and decided to try some new recipes as well! Using recipes I found on the internet, I made sugar cookies, gingerbread men and a Newfoundland tea time staple, jam jams!

I owe mom a huge thank you as she saved my peanut butter mice! I completely firetrucked up when I made them! As I coated the mice in chocolate, I set them to dry in an aluminum cookie dish. I did not realize at the time that that was a bad idea. About an hour or so later, I returned to the kitchen and the mice looked like they had hardened well enough, so, I got out an empty cool whip container to put them in and set it on the table. I attempted to remove one of the mice from the dish and it wouldn’t move! The chocolate had stuck on to the tray! FIRETRUCK!!!!! I wound up totally mangling the cookies trying to move them from the tray to the empty cool whip tin! Mom came home, and by some miracle, she was able to salvage most of the mess and reshape it into mice, she then melted some more chocolate and coated each one and set them to dry on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. When they had set, they were easily removed from the parchment! No big mangled mess! Thank God for mothers!

A few days before Christmas, I got to do something that I’d never done before. I went mummering!! Mummering is a Newfoundland Christmas tradition where people dress up in ridiculous costumes (humps on their back, oversized bras on over their clothes, mittens on their feet and boots on their hands, lampshades on their head, etc.) and hide their faces and they go from door to door and they sing, dance and fool around with the people of the house. The homeowners have to try and figure out who the mummers are. I have lived in Newfoundland for my entire 21 years of life and I had never ever gone mummering! At the S.U.F Christmas party back on December 22nd, mummers always come and have a dance with the people in the audience! This year, they were minus a mummer as my friend Viola who was supposed to play one had hurt her back and couldn’t do it. They needed someone to fill in and I volunteered right away! I wore an aviator cap, one rainbow colored mitten, a red and black checkered shirt and a pink housecoat. I had an amazing time dancing with the mummers and the people in the audience as well! I hope to get to do it again next year!

Christmas day was wonderful. My niece and I woke up at around 7:30 and went out to the living room to see if Santa had come. The tree was full of presents! We were both so excited that he had been here and couldn’t wait to open our gifts. After breakfast, we all gathered in the living room to watch each other open presents.

I got many lovely things this year. One of my favorite gifts was “Streaking Kittens” an expansion pack for my Exploding Kittens game! I’m really looking forward to playing that with my friends at our next game night! I was also very happy to receive a good quality jump rope! What a wonderful surprise from Santa! For those of you who don’t know, I am on the CBS Special Olypics rhythmic gymnastics team. In our competition this year, one of our routines (set to Hannah Montanna’s “Hoedown Throwdown”!) uses a rope. I had been practicing with was a cheap one from Dollarama. It wasn’t quite my size and it was rather old and falling apart. The handle on the left hand side would often slip down the rope. I’m looking forward to practicing my routine with my new, blue, cord jump rope. Another very pleasant surprise was two new LEGO sets! I was very surprised as LEGO’s are quite expensive, I thought that if any I would only get one. I got the LEGO architecture Buckingham Palace set (England is on my bucket list and this is one landmark I would love to see if I ever have the chance to go!) and the new Diagon Alley set from the Harry Potter line (again, big fan of England and many things from that country, Harry Potter being one. I haven’t seen all the movies, but really enjoyed the ones I have seen.)

Another really cool gift was one that was for the whole family, a Google Home Mini! Thanks mom! It’s amazing the things that it can do! Tell you the weather, play the radio, answer any question you have! Poppy asked it how the Canadians did in their game the night before and it told him. His face lit up! He was absolutely amazed! My heart overflowed!

Speaking of Poppy, one of his gifts this year was all three seasons of “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” on DVD plus a collection of her Christmas specials! Poppy dies at her, I do too (just a quick note for the non-Newfies, saying you “dies at” someone means you find them absolutely hysterical, so much so you feel like you are going to die laughing!) A few days later we had such fun watching some of the Christmas specials! I hadn’t seen Poppy that happy or heard him laugh that much in a long time.

I spent New Year’s Eve at the S.U.F Hall in Topsail. They have a special open mic/ New Year’s Party every year. It’s so much fun to get together with all my friends from the S.U.F and ring in the New Year with music and dancing! No better way to end a year off in my opinion!

Now it’s 2019! So far this year, I’ve done some pretty awesome stuff! On Monday night, I went to the staff Christmas party at Spirit of Newfoundland! That was the best night of my year so far! Heck, it was one of the best nights of my life so far!

One of the activities we did at the party was a cooking contest! We were split up into three teams for this event. I was on a team with Dana Parsons, Erin Winsor, Kathie Hicks, Caroline and two guys whom I had never seen before (I assume they are new) whose names I’m not sure of (we unfortunately didn’t have a chance to introduce ourselves.) Then, each team went up to a table in the dining room. On each table was a different protein. Each team revealed what they had to work with. The white team got codfish, the yellow team got ground beef and my team got imitation crab. We then had 20 minutes to prepare hors d’oeuvres for 10 people using our protein.

I had an idea right away as to what to do with the crab and I shared it with my team. Get some mayo and celery and we’ll do a seafood salad! That’s exactly what we all did. I was in charge of chopping up the crab. I also fetched utensils, bowls, etc. when necessary.

We were close to finishing our salad when we had a few more ideas! There were some loaves of our homemade sourdough bread in the kitchen, so we grabbed one, cut it up into small pieces, threw some olive oil over it and baked them. Once they came out of the oven, we put a little bit of our salad on top of each one. We served it on a pretty silver tray with a red napkin on top. It looked really nice!

Dana also came up with an idea to make guacamole! She managed to whip that up really fast and get it into a bowl. Not long after she had the guacamole in the bowl, Adam the sound guy who was a competitor on the white team came over to our side of the kitchen. He looked at our guacamole, said “Wow! That looks amazing” and before anyone could stop him, he grabbed a chip, piled a mountain of guacamole on it and ran! I could not believe that he had just sabotaged us! Evil little firetrucker! Thankfully, Dana managed to make more just in time.

At the end of our 20 minutes, each team presented their dish. The white team had made a fish taco and the yellow team made burritos. They both looked really good! We were up against some pretty serious competition! In the end, by unanimous decision from the judges, the gold team won! Yay us!!! I was so proud of everyone on my team! I didn’t get a chance to sample the white team’s dish, but, after all was said and done I tried one of the yellow team’s burrito’s and it was absolutely delicious! Well done yellow team!

The best part of the night that night, hands down was the spontaneous karaoke dance party! After getting a drink from the bar, I popped in to the dining room to see what was going on and Adam was up on stage singing “Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm” by the Crash Test Dummies. I’d never heard him sing before. He was really good! As he sang, I started dancing, just kinda swaying to the music on my own. Janet saw what I was doing and asked me to dance with her, so I did! My heart overflowed with happiness as I danced with Janet!

We apparently have some very talented servers working at Spirit! Sarah and Caroline sang a few tunes and I thought they were awesome! I was really impressed with the girl who sang Blind Melon’s “No Rain”! Wow! With a voice like hers, she is really going to go places.

I never pass up an opportunity to sing for an audience, so I took a turn on the stage! I sang one of my go-to karaoke songs, Rod Stewart’s “The First Cut Is The Deepest”. I can’t even begin to describe how I felt in that moment, everyone was singing along, there was smoke pouring from the fog machine, Adam backing me up on drums, it was incredible!

We did a few group numbers at the end, those were two of my favorite performances of the night! We did Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”! I loved it!

The biggest thing that’s happened to me so far this year was my return to the classroom! This week was my first full week of classes in the Early Childhood Education program at CONA. I fell behind and failed two courses during my first year (I was hospitalized thanks to my colon who didn’t seem to understand its job title as an internal organ! Read more about that here.) so I am back to do them over again! With hard work, determination and help from my best friend/tutor Peter, I’m confident that this time I will pass those two courses!

Now you’re up to speed! I look forward to seeing what the rest of this year will bring and sharing it with all of you!

Leah

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Grinch Dressing & Gravy 2018


Hey blog world! I spent last Wednesday and Thursday night in the colorful, magical province of Whofoundland! I went to the Holy… or rather, Wholy Heart Theatre to see Spirit of Newfoundland’s production of “Grinch Dressing & Gravy”.

Those who have been following my blog for a long time will remember that I did a review of this show in 2014 when I first saw it at the Masonic Temple. The Grinch is Spirit’s most popular Christmas show, people always ask Peter when would he remount the Grinch. He decided that this year, since it is such a crowd favorite, he would bring it back, but on a much larger scale! This time, it was performed on a bigger stage and he added a dance troupe (Ignite Dance Company). I was so excited when I heard it was coming back! It is my second favorite Spirit show (my #1 favorite is “ABBA: Gotta Get The Scoop”, which I have seen 4 times!) I got tickets as soon as I could!

I was not just a member of the audience, I also did something very special during both nights of the show’s run. For those of you who don’t already know, I am an artist in my spare time (click here to visit my Facebook page for more information on that.) and the money that I make from selling my paintings goes to the Masonic Temple’s restoration fund. The Masonic Temple (the building that Spirit operates out of) is such a wonderful place. Not only is it a breathtakingly beautiful historical site, but it is also it is one of few places that I truly feel like I belong and fit in. I want to do everything I can to help save it. Thank you so much Peter, Paul and Kathie for allowing me to set up shop in the lobby of Holy Heart during the show and sell my paintings to people.

I really enjoyed sitting at my table those two nights and interacting with the people as they would come to my stand. I especially loved seeing a very enthusiastic little girl come by my stand on Wednesday evening. She was wide eyed and full of childlike wonder as she looked at my paintings. She went on and on to her daddy about how pretty they all were! I thought that was so sweet! In total, I sold 8 paintings over the two nights. Thank you so much to everyone who bought one from me. Your money is going to a very worthwhile cause!

On Wednesday night, I got to sit in the audience during the show! It was such a magical, heartwarming and funny performance! I loved every minute of it!

As you all know, this story takes place in Whoville which is located inside a snowflake like the one on your sleeve. Peter took a few creative liberties when rewriting this tale. “Grinch Dressing & Gravy” is set in Whofoundland which, as Michael the narrator tells us, is just around the bay! you go past the three hearts, content, delight and desire and you’ll find Whofoundland nestled in-between Dildo and Whiteway.

We then get to meet the Whofoundlanders as they prepare for the Wholiday season and sing “Trim Up The Tree”. It was such a fun and cheery song! It put a big smile on my face! Also, it sounded wonderful, all the voices of the Who’s sounded lovely harmonizing together!!

While most of the Who’s are having fun, Mallory Johnson’s character, Cindy-Lou (who in this version was a lot older than two (judging by the way she spoke, acted and presented herself I’m going to guess probably 8), isn’t. She thinks the whole idea of Christmas is superfluous! We soon learn that her mother Martha May (Gita Wigdorchik) isn’t in the Christmas spirit either. It was this time of year when she lost her husband, Cindy Lou’s father. I felt bad for her, the first few Christmases after you lose someone special are always hard. Together, they sang songs expressing their feelings. Mallory gave a breathtaking, beautiful, goose-bump inducing performance of “Where Are You Christmas”. I’m not sure of the name of the song that Gita sang, but it was very powerful and emotional. Well done both of you!

Soon, Michael began talking about the Grinch. He said that one suspected reason why the Grinch is the way he is is because he is from Toronto and is a Leafs fan! LOL! I can’t wait to tell that to my bocce coach at our team’s Christmas party tonight (he is die-hard for the Leafs)!

The Grinch was played to perfection by Peter Halley. It always kind of throws me for a loop whenever Peter plays a villain.  He is a teddy bear! Sweet, caring, the nicest person I’ve ever met. The Grinch’s heart was two sizes too small, Peter’s is three sizes too big! It blows my mind how someone like him without a mean bone in their body can play an evil doer so well! Really goes to show how amazing of an actor Peter is.

He is also an amazing singer! I loved his version of “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” with some little Newfoundland twists

You’re a dirtbag, Mr. Grinch. You really are from hell! You’re as cuddly as a sculpin, you’re charming as Andy Wells

“Lonely Christmas Eve”, sung by the Grinch really hit me in the feels. He reveals that he’s not so bad, he’s just lonely and hates to see everyone but him having a good time. It made me want to give the Grinch a big hug. He seemed like he needed one.

While still talking about the Grinch, I’d like to give a big shout-out to Sarah Lind, the makeup artist! She is extremely talented! This is a recent (ish) picture of Peter Peter

and here he is as the Grinch Grinch Peter What an incredible transformation! Hard to believe its the same person!

Along with stealing all the trees, presents, etc. the Grinch plotted to ruin Christmas by stealing all the favorite Newfoundland traditions! He bought out all the turkey’s from Whominion, acquired a bunch of spruce budworms from the government for a “scientific experiment” (in reality he wanted them to destroy all the Christmas trees) and took over Mt. Scio Farms and Purity Factories! The funniest bit was when the person from Whominion that he was speaking to asked for the name of the credit card holder, he said Dwight Ball (our premier!) As funny as all this was, I certainly wouldn’t have liked to have been a Who in Whofoundland when this was all going on! All the changes he made to the Purity and Mt. Scio products sound nasty! Ginger craps, unsavory, asparagus syrup! EWWW! Makes me throw up in my mouth a little just thinking about it!

At one point, the Grinch asks his dog Maxine (played by Dana Parsons) what she wants for Christmas. She confesses that she wants to go down off the mountain and spend time with the Who’s. She does this by singing a killer rendition of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”! This is one of my favorite songs to hear Dana sing! She is such a vocal powerhouse and she rocks this song! The dancing fleas, courtesy of Ignite, were a nice touch. For pesky little insects, they had some cool moves! This was a real standout for me, one of the best musical performances in the show!

The Carner By’s (a group of skeets played by Michael, Keith and Dana) were back! As always they had me in stitches laughing! This time, after they had their smoke, they decided to play a game of boggers! Boggers is a game of dares. You say “Boggers on you, 1, 2, 3!” and dare someone to do something. Dana says “Boggers on da two a ye! Let’s go up and get the Grinch on the go!” Michael thinks its a wicked idea, Keith isn’t so sure. Eventually, after some peer pressure, he is convinced to go up with them. They learn the the hard way that the Grinch is someone you really don’t want to firetruck with when Michael’s plan to make the Grinch poop his pants backfires and goes the other way around!

At the start of the second act, the Who’s had a special “Who-In” ceremony where they crowned the Who-In King and Queen. Gita looked absolutely gorgeous during this scene, like a human Barbie doll. To kick off the ceremony, she sang “Perfect Christmas Night”. This was another standout performance for me. She sounded awesome! Her voice suits jazz and rock n roll songs really well.

We learn in this scene that the mayor of Whoville and also Martha’s fiance, Homer Who (Keith Power) is extremely vain and self-centered. His name was the only one on the Who-In King voting ballot! He rigged the whole thing! Applicants had to fill out an extremely long questionnaire and submit an entrance fee that was over $9000! Not in the least bit fair! I agreed with Cindy Lou when she said its time they give someone else a chance at the crown. It was so funny seeing how upset he was when he (rightfully) had the crown taken from him (by who I won’t say so that I don’t spoil anything!)! He was clinging onto it for dear life!

The ending is my favorite part of the Grinch. This is one of my favorite excerpts from the book…

It came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags! The Grinch puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore, then he thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas perhaps doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.

As those lines were said in the show, I sat there with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart and tears in my eyes. It was such a beautiful moment! Even more beautiful was the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes and the twist ending that followed! I won’t spoil that for anyone who hasn’t seen the show, all I’ll say is it involves Signal Hill and a Toyota Camry. You’ll have to wait until NTV airs the show to see just what this lovely surprise is!

To cap off the performance, the cast sang a few Christmas songs, my favorite was “Jingle Bells”. I love the way they do that song! It’s super fast and a lot of fun! As one final song, they of course sang “Spirit of Newfoundland”, the song that they end every show with. As always, it was absolutely beautiful!

For those of you who didn’t get to see the show live, this Sunday, it will air on NTV! Set your PVR’s! This is something not to be missed! Until next time, Merry Christmas and Happy Wholidays!

Leah

 

Christmas Around The World 2018


Hey blog world! Last Tuesday, November 20th, was a special day for me. I turned 21! I had such a wonderful Birthday. The celebrations lasted all week and included Chinese takeout, an improv show, several cakes (screech cake, cheesecake and vanilla cake), lots of family time and my favorite Birthday tradition, a night out at Spirit of Newfoundland!

The Christmas season at Spirit always begins on or around my Birthday. I make a point every year to go out with one or two close friends and/or family members to see the Christmas show as a special early or belated celebration. Last Friday, I chose to spend my special Birthday evening with my new boyfriend Jordan and our friend Jim from the Best Buddies program (click the link for more info on Best Buddies, it’s an amazing organization I highly recommend becoming part of!)

This year’s Christmas production is a rerun of “Christmas Around The World”, a show, written by Peter Halley that Spirit performed back in Christmas 2013. I was there to see it during it’s original run and really enjoyed it, so I was quite excited when I heard they were doing this again. I was eager to see how they would revamp it for 2018. Click here to view my review of the original 2013 production of the show.

Jim was excited to come to the show as well! He had never been to a dinner theatre before and was really looking forward to seeing the show and trying the food. Jordan on the other hand was not as excited. He didn’t think he would like it (musicals aren’t his thing). I hoped he would change his tune by the end of the evening.

When we arrived at the Masonic Temple, it was like we had stepped into a winter wonderland! I wish I had thought to take pictures! The decorations were mesmerizing! There were rainbow colored reindeer, lots of pretty colored lights, beautifully decorated Christmas trees, and what I thought was a really nice touch was Santa’s nice list was hung from the balcony of the stage and it contained the names of many employees of Spirit of Newfoundland and something nice about them (i.e, Erin: sweet, just like her dad, Adam: tech wizard). What a lovely and thoughtful gesture.

When the doors to the main room opened, Jordan, Jim and I found our table and sat down. We began to tuck into the breadbasket that was filled with Spirit of NL’s absolutely mouthwatering homemade sourdough bead! To go with the bread, there were different types of homemade butter. Jim fell absolutely in love with one that was made with I believe sun dried tomato (at least, that’s what it tasted like to me, correct me if I’m wrong chef Darrell). Seriously, after the bread was gone and our server came around to clear the basket off our table, he was going to take the plate of butter away, but Jim asked him to leave it there and he ate the rest of the sun-dried tomato butter with his spoon! Still a better love story than Twilight! Ha! By the way, chef Darrell, if you come across this, Jim wants your recipe! He has been begging me to ask you for it!

For our appetizer that evening, we were served a savory sweet potato soup with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and white wine garnished with a garlic aoli. I am not a fan of sweet potato, but gave this soup a try to see if the white wine, cinnamon, etc. would perhaps mask the flavor and make it a bit more palatable. It wasn’t the best thing I’d ever eaten (that being said, I mean no disrespect to Darrell, sweet potato just isn’t my thing!) but it wasn’t awful. Jim and Jordan however both really enjoyed the soup. Jordan went so far as to say it was one of the best he’d had!

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Our main course that evening was a choice between traditional turkey dinner or stuffed pork loin filled with apple & cranberry stuffing and topped with an apricot reduction. I chose the pork and Jim and Jordan opted for the turkey.

The pork was very nice, tender and flavorful. The stuffing was delicious as well! All the different flavors paired excellently with each other. My meal came with a side of vegetables, carrots, mashed turnip and mashed potato. The mashed potato was firetrucking incredible!!!! I don’t know what Darrell did to it, but it was so fluffy and creamy and absolutely perfect!

Not long after we ate, the show began. That evening, Kara Noftle was in the role of Mrs. Claus. I thought she looked lovely in her costume and I really liked the New York esque accent that she had. In this scene, she was on the phone with a friend of hers and had quite a shocking confession to make… she was thinking of leaving Santa Claus!!! He’s sullen, crooked as sin, drinks too much egg nog, and between preparing for Christmas and flying around the world, he hasn’t much time for her.

Leaving the audience with a cliff-hanger, wondering whether or not she is going to go through with her plan, the whole cast of the show (Michael Power, Keith Power (no relation), Dana Parsons and Kara) came out in plain-clothes and sang a song about Christmas around the world set to the tune of Bony M’s “Rivers Of Babylon”. It was a lot of fun! I was dancing and singing along the whole time!

After singing the song, they shared some worldly Christmas traditions. Pop quiz: What’s traditional Christmas dinner in Japan? If you guessed any sort of Japanese fare you are wrong! Sushi, mochi and other traditional Japanese dishes do not grace the table on Christmas Day, instead they dine on KFC (or, as Michael Power so eloquently puts it, “dead bird in a box”!) We also learn that in Italy, instead of writing letters to Santa, children write letters to their parents telling them how much they love them! Isn’t that the sweetest thing! I thought that was so lovely.

As they talked about the various Christmas traditions, they sang Christmas songs from various places all over the world. I loved every song they sang during this segment, but Venezuela, Italy and Mexico were certainly my top three favorites! In Venezuela, they have a rather unique way of getting to mass, they roller-skate! The cast put on invisible roller blades and skated around the stage as they sang “Feliz Navidad”. After singing through the chorus once, Michael announces it’s time to reverse skating at which point, they jump up, turn around and go the other way! I thought that was really cool! After singing that song, Michael says to the audience that people in Newfoundland would sing the song a little differently and he begins to sing “Police Got My Car” by Newfoundland parody artist Snook! Jordan and I both nearly bust a gut we were laughing so hard!

As I said above, Italy has the lovely Christmas tradition of children leaving letters for their parents. Christmas and children inspired a very cute little song that the cast then sang for us called “Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey”. The chorus of that song made me laugh a lot!

When they got to Mexico, they sang one of my favorite Christmas songs, “The Hat I Got For Christmas Is Too Big”! It’s such a funny song! Even funnier was when Keith sang “Can’t tell one thing from another I got married to my brother!” and then on the screen above the stage appeared a (photo-shopped) wedding photo of Keith marrying his identical twin!

Next, they talked about toys! They shared Time Magazine’s list of the top 10 most influential toys from the 20’s to the present day. It was fun looking back at what toys were most popular in which era. One thing that really surprised me during this segment was something that Michael said when they were talking about the Tickle Me Elmo. Apparently, a Wal-Mart employee in New Brunswick was trampled when parents saw him carrying a box full of those toys! And I thought Black Friday in the states was bad!! My word!

The corner by’s made a return to Spirit of Newfoundland’s stage that evening and I was thrilled to see them! It had been a year since I had seen skeets/hard tickets grace the stage at Spirit and I missed them and their antics. Keith, Dana and Michael always knock it out of the park when they play skeets. Their accents, mannerisms, everything about them is absolutely hysterical! One thing I love about Michael’s skeet character is this. The corner by’s always have a puff of their (fake) smoke when they are on stage and Michael blows smoke rings! I’ve seen him do this multiple times and it still never ceases to amaze me! It’s the coolest thing!

A little later, we return to Mrs. Claus’ office in the North Pole to see her once again on the phone with her friend. I don’t want to spoil the show for those who haven’t seen it, so I won’t say much about what they talk about, all I will say is that she has written a letter to Santa expressing her feelings. At the end of this scene, she begins to wonder if this is really what she wants. She then sings Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas”. Kara did a beautiful job on this song. It sounded so pretty!

We also take a trip to Vegas during act 1! Skip Stone the Vegas comic comes out to tell a few jokes. I liked the ones about his mother in law, I thought those were very funny. I didn’t get the one about lobster tail and beer (there was a deal on lobster tail and beer at a hotel and he said he would take that in as those are his three favorite things), but everyone else in the room laughed. He also told a joke about Elvis that I found was rather cheesy. What did Elvis say to his gardener? Thank you, thank you for the mulch.

After the jokes, Skip announced that there were a few celebrities in the building who were going to come out and perform! First up was Cher! Dana’s Cher always has me rolling! It’s a spot on and very, very funny impression!

A little later, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton arrived! Whenever Kenny Rogers takes part in a show at Spirit of Newfoundland, they like to have a little fun at his expense, the actor playing Kenny always wears a stocking over their face! I commend Michael for his amazing performance. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to perform with that stocking distorting your face! Nevertheless, he did a fantastic job. He nailed the voice, was very funny and gave an excellent performance of “I’ll Be Home With Bells On”!

Dolly and Cher had a little sing-off. They each walked out into the audience and sang snippets of a few of their greatest hits. It amazes me how Dana sounds almost exactly like Cher! Close your eyes and you’d swear it really was her! Kara did a fantastic Dolly impression. I loved it when the girls would interact with unsuspecting men in the audience. In almost every show, one of the female cast members will often go out into the audience in search of an empty lap to sit on and once they find one, they sit down and serenade that person. The reactions of the lucky audience members are always priceless!

After this, it was time for desert, screech cake! It’s the most delicious cake you will ever eat! The screech caramel sauce that’s paired with it is delicious as well. It’s got a nice hint of sweetness that contrasts very well with the strength of the rum in the sauce and the cake. Jordan had had it once before when I had my family party at my house. He really enjoyed it then and did so again that night. I was very excited to see what Jim thought of the cake as he had never had it before. He thought it was absolutely delicious! I was so glad that he liked it!

In act two, there is another list! This time, it’s the list of the top 10 best selling Christmas songs of all time. Michael, Dana and Keith do this segment and they do it excellently! The harmonies are wonderful! There were a few songs on the list that I wasn’t surprised to see such as “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” and “White Christmas”. However, there was one that I was very surprised by. That was #2 on the list, a song by one of my least favorite artists; “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber. Now, while I absolutely hate Justin Bieber, I will admit that I do like the song. It’s literally the only one of his songs that I don’t mind, but, I only like it the way that Keith does it. Justin’s voice just really gets to me.

#1 on the list was Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Dana absolutely slayed that song! She brought the house down! It was my favorite musical performance of the night! The wind machine and the snow were a really nice touch during this performance!

We also get to hear a special Open Line segment hosted by Paddy Daly (Keith) about Newfoundlander’s favorite Christmas traditions! Each caller was very funny and entertaining in their own way, I can’t pick a favorite!

My favorite skit in the show was Michael’s “Christmas Reflections From Around The Bay” monologue. It was about Poppy John, originally from Capelin Cove, who was now living in St. John’s to be closer to his family and one memorable Christmas he spent in his daughter’s home. His grandchildren were all in a frenzy opening their presents, squealing and laughing, and there was no order to it at all, everything was open it now, eat it now, wear it now, etc. There was so much noise and chaos, and then suddenly, everything stopped. The lights went out, the music stopped playing, there was no more beeping and buzzing. So, as hot chocolate and tea was made on the stove, Poppy John told stories of his Christmases in Capelin Cove. This monologue is so beautiful, so much so that it always brings a tear or two to my eye and it makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy. I have a real soft spot for seniors. One thing that I thought made the monologue even more sweet and lovely this year was that Poppy John tells us how he would just sit there like a puppet saying “That’s a dandy Michael!”, “Only the best for you Lilly!”, this year he added in “That’ll fit you in a few years Percy!” Percy is Peter Halley’s new baby nephew (and the most handsome little human on the face of the earth I might add!) I thought it was so nice that he is now included in the monologue along with Michael and Lilly his big brother and sister.

As the show neared the end, we were treated to a medley of Christmas songs. Dana began with a beautiful rendition of James Taylor’s “Some Children See Him”, then the whole cast moved onto a breathtaking performance of one of my favorite Christmas carols, “When A Child Is Born”. By the end of that piece of the medley I had goosebumps and a few more tears in my eyes!

Soon, the skeets come back and Michael announces that he is going to join the Basilica’s church choir next Christmas. Keith doesn’t sound so sure about Michael singing gospel. Michael then whips a microphone out of his pocket and puts Keith in his place. He gives us a powerful and soulful performance of “Go Tell It On The Mountain”.

It would be remiss of me to be this far down in the blog post and not mention the magnificent band that was on stage that night! There was Evan Smith on piano, Boomer Stamp on drums, Frank Fusari on bass and Brad Jefford on the guitar, a stellar lineup if you ask me! Each one is exceptionally talented and together they made awesome music!

At the end of the show, I asked Jordan what he thought of it. He said it was amazing! It was funny and very entertaining! He was very glad he came and can’t wait to come back! Yay! I was thrilled to hear that he liked it that much! Jim was in the same boat, he absolutely loved the show and wants to come back soon too.

Before we left, I got to introduce Jordan to my friends in the cast and we got a picture together as well! Jordan really enjoyed meeting and talking to them all. I’m so glad that he did.

Christmas Cast 2

“Christmas Around The World” was a phenomenal show from start to finish, a perfect way to cap off my 21st Birthday celebrations! If you would like to see this show, it is running until January 6th. Click here, or call 579-3023 to make your reservation!

But wait… there’s more! Spirit is also doing Christmas luncheons featuring the rotating cast of Peter Halley and Shelley Neville and Evan Smith and Kara Noftle. While you enjoy a delicious three course buffet style lunch, the performers, along with a three piece band (Frank Fusari, Bill Brennan and Boomer Stamp), will sing Christmas carols! Lastly, back by popular demand, Spirit is taking its Newfoundland adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss Christmas tale to a much larger scale as they perform “Grinch Dressing & Gravy” at the Holy Heart Theatre on December 12th and 13th. To purchase your tickets for that show (which I highly recommend you do!) click here, or call 579-4424.

Leah

Wednesday Jam


Nothing makes the whole world right like music and friends

Bud Davidge

Hey blog world! Wednesday is my favorite day of the week! I say that because every Wednesday, I go to the weekly jam session at the S.U.F Hall and spend the morning singing and dancing with the most wonderful group of people!

I am the youngest person at the jam. Everyone else is 50+. I love spending time with that generation for several reasons. One reason is because they have good taste in music! My Niece is 13 and she loves rap music. I can’t stand it! Most rap songs are full of swear words and a lot of the stuff she listens to has some very inappropriate subject matter. I prefer the music that my parents and grandparents grew up with. Real music with minimal swearing and no auto-tune. Some of my favorite musicians are Roger Miller, George Jones, Marty Robbins and Buddy Holly.

Another reason why I love spending my Wednesday mornings with older people are because they are so interesting! Among our group we have (among many other interesting personas) a teddy bear man and a pilot who built his own airplane! They all have so many stories to tell and I love to listen to them.

The people at the S.U.F jam session are some of the nicest people you will ever meet! That’s the thing I love most about them. We’re like one big family! Whenever one of us is down, the others are always there to help pick them back up. If one of us is hospitalized or has experienced a loss of a family member, that following Wednesday a card will make its way around the room that everyone signs with a heartfelt message of support. Once we even made a video of ourselves singing “Keep On The Sunny Side” and sent it to a regular attendee of the jam who was spending time in the hospital.

Everyone at the jam is very accepting. We welcome anyone and everyone (of 19 years and older) no matter what their race, religion, sexuality or ability. The S.U.F hall is one of few places I actually feel like I fit in! I haven’t got to worry about being ridiculed or bullied at all. I’m treated only with kindness and respect. That means the world to me.

Even stuffed dragons are welcome and accepted at the jam! I have a stuffed dragon named Stuffy that I take everywhere with me and use as a calming mechanism. If I become anxious, overwhelmed, scared or have a meltdown related to either my sensory issues or my globophobia I pull Stuffy out of my purse or pocket and give him a hug to help myself feel better and calm down. At the S.U.F, he’s just another regular attendee of the jam, like everyone else! People ask me how he’s doing (and some people ask Stuffy himself!), some pat him on the head if they see him peeking out of my purse or sitting next to me and on a few occasions, he’s even been offered a 50/50 ticket (he has yet to win, but he’s hopeful!)

Stuffy at SUF

Stuffy and I with our close friend Gerry Russell at the Canada Day jam session.

The music that is played every week is so diverse. At the Wednesday morning jam you’re guaranteed to hear a bit of everything, Irish/Newfoundland, country, folk, rock-n-roll and sometimes even hula! Something that I think is really cool is that some performers play songs that they themselves have written! Terry Rielley always has a brand new, original tune to share with us.

The jam boasts some astounding performers! There are certain people who leave me with goosebumps when I hear them sing and others who absolutely blow my mind with their guitar playing ability! There is no shortage of talent at the S.U.F, I can guarantee that!

If the music moves you, you are always welcome to get up and dance! That is one of my favorite things about the jam! When someone plays a jig or something else fast and fun, myself and a group of other ladies love to get out on the floor and dance together! When something soft and slow plays, there are always a few couples who share a slow dance.

Hungry? No problem! There are always lots of yummy things to eat. Deviled eggs, sandwiches, and lots of sweet treats as well, yesterday we had chocolate cake, snowballs and chocolate chip banana bread! What’s really nice is that a lot of the goodies at the snack table are homemade! Things always taste better that way in my opinion. We also have a cake once a month on “Birthday Wednesday” to collectively celebrate all Birthday’s happening that month and on the last Wednesday of every month there is a potluck dinner immediately following the jam where almost everyone brings a homemade dish to share. As you can see, there is no shortage of delicious food, you will never leave the jam session hungry!

If you like good music, friendly people and yummy food, I strongly recommend coming to the Wednesday jam, held every Wednesday morning at the S.U.F Hall on Topsail Road (next door to the fire station and across the road from Topsail United Church) from 9:30 until 12:30. See you next week!

Leah

Dream A Little Dream Of We


Hey blog world! After having a rough week at daycare (among other things I had sand thrown in my face, a baby doll stroller thrown at my head (thankfully the child missed!) and a three year old made it very clear that she did not want me near her face with a wet paper towel. She attempted to bite me!) I was very, very glad to be at Spirit of Newfoundland yesterday to have a much needed break!

I was there since noon yesterday. For those of you who don’t already know, I work at Spirit of NL on Saturdays. As always, I had a super busy day folding napkins, polishing cutlery, setting tables, etc. There’s never a dull moment and I love every minute of it! It’s the best job in the world and I’m sad that it will soon come to an end once summer comes to a close.

Usually when I get off work, mom or dad picks me up and I go on home, but you know, some days you’ve just gotta go where you wanna go and do what you wanna do with whoever you wanna do it with, am I right?! Yesterday was one of those days for me, instead of going home, I stayed behind after work to take in the show! The performance that night was “Dream A Little Dream Of We”, a tribute to The Mamas & The Papas!

With me this evening was my friend Steven and his father Gary. Steven and I are Special Olympics teammates (go Bright Stars!!!) We’ve played many sports together through Special O, bowling, rhythmic gymnastics, athletics and most recently, bocce. Steven and Gary go to literally every tribute show that comes through St. John’s, so I thought they would be the perfect people to ask to come out to this show!

Not long after they arrived, we sat down to eat. I won’t go into detail again about the appetizer we were served, I have done that already in my review of “Stand By Your Nan” (click here to see that.) But I have a lot to say about the main course!! We had the choice of either chicken puttanesca, or cod. I opted for the chicken. I’m very glad I did! It was absolutely delicious! The chicken was perfectly cooked and the puttanesca sauce was to die for! The tomato sauce was pleasantly tangy and the capers and black olives added a nice salty contrast to it. On the side, we were served green beans, carrots and a hasselback potato. For those of you who read my “Stand By Your Nan” review, you’ll remember that I wasn’t a fan of the potato that night. I gave it another try yesterday evening and was surprised. Again, I can’t put it to words, but this time I quite enjoyed it.

Steven had a special meal. He is a very picky eater and Gary knew he wouldn’t eat either one of the fancy menu options. So, the chefs were more than happy to provide Steven with something that he could enjoy, chicken nuggets and fries with a side of ketchup. Steven was pleased that they were able to do that for him. Thank you very much Chef Alex and company for making that accommodation!

After we ate, we were treated to a very special pre-show performance. Laura Taylor, a fellow voice student of Peter Halley, sang a few songs for us! When she sang, all I could think was “Holy firetruck!” I was absolutely awestruck! Out of all three of her songs, “At Last” was my favorite. She has such an incredible voice, perfect for jazz music. Gary leaned over to me after her performance and said “She’s gonna go places!” I couldn’t agree more! I wish you the best of luck in your musical journey Laura (and also in your soccer tournament!) I know for certain you’ll make it big someday!

After a few minutes (just enough time to pick my jaw up off the table after Laura’s breathtaking performance!), the main show began. To start the show, four app developers played by Kara Noftle, Dana Parsons, Keith Power and Evan Smith complained to each other about their job and they said how much they missed being in a band together. That gave them an idea. They decided to do that again and form a tribute band! The only problem now was to decide who to pay tribute to? They debated everything from the Beatles to the Spice Girls. As they did this, they sang snippets of songs by the various bands they were thinking of. When they contemplated doing the Spice Girls, Kara and Dana did a killer performance of “Wannabe”! They didn’t get to sing the whole song because Evan had enough and made them stop, but what they did get to sing was absolutely awesome! Keith thought about doing The Four Seasons and they wondered who they would get to be Frankie Vallie. Keith then gave us an absolutely phenomenal and mind blowing performance of “Sherry”! The high notes he is able to hit absolutely amaze me!

Still unsure of who to tribute, they turned to Siri, Alexa and Google, neither of which were any help. Then, Evan said he’d been working on a new app called Cyril, a Newfoundland version of Siri. I thought that was the funniest thing! They asked Cyril what band they should tribute and he completely misunderstood the question and gave them directions to the Avalon Mall! They took that as a sign. Do a tribute to the Wonderful Grand Band!! For those of you trying to put two and two together and figure out the correlation, The Wonderful Grand Band was a comedic Newfoundland band and one of their biggest hits was “Babylon Mall“, a song about the Avalon Mall. They sang a little bit of “Babylon Mall” and again I was disappointed that they stopped after only singing a little bit! It’s such a jam and I was having a lot of fun dancing to it! Eventually, after thinking long and hard about who to tribute, they settled on… you guessed it, The Mamas & The Papas!

To teach us the history of the band, they sang my favorite Mamas & Papas song, the autobiographical hit “Creeque Alley”. Memorizing this song is no easy feat, but they certainly made it look like it was! Excellent job everyone!

With every Mamas & Papas song they sang tonight, their voices harmonized so perfectly and sounded absolutely amazing together! I truly don’t think Peter could have picked a better cast for this show!

A little later, Evan and Keith talked about the two boys in the band. When they talked about Denny Doherty, they talked about the bands he was in before Mamas & Papas, and they also brought me back to my childhood! They said that after his time in the band, he went on to do a children’s TV show where he not only played the narrator, but he also voiced all the characters. Evan asked if anyone knew what that show was and my hand shot up! Evan called on me and I excitedly gave the answer. It was one of my favorite shows as a little girl, “Theodore Tugboat“! When they played a short video clip of the opening sequence, hearing the song and seeing Theodore, Emily and all the rest of the ships from Big Harbor made me feel like I was 6 years old again!

Then, Kara and Dana talked about the girls! Quick pop quiz: What was the cause of Mama Cass’ death? If you think, like many people do, that she died by choking on a ham sandwich, you are wrong! I was very surprised when Kara and Dana told the audience that it was only a rumor. Yes, there was a half-eaten ham sandwich found on her nightstand when she passed, but it was not what killed her. She actually died of heart failure.

There was, as always, some audience participation in this show! As they were singing “Dedicated To The One I Love”, Dana came out into the audience and sat in the lap of a male audience member and sang to him! I love watching the reactions on the faces of people who get sat on! They are always priceless!

Soon, it was time for the intermission and that meant one thing, screech cake!!! Spirit of Newfoundland’s screech cake is the best cake you will ever eat! Tonight, they turned it into a trifle, adding wild berries and whipped cream, both of which made the cake even more delicious than it already was! Everyone at my table really enjoyed it!

In the second act, they all sang their favorite songs either recorded by the Mamas & Papas or written by John Phillips. Evan sang “San Francisco”, written by John Phillips and recorded by Scott McKenzie. I had heard Evan sing this a few days ago in a video on Facebook and it was so beautiful that I nearly cried! It sounded even more beautiful live! Hands down, my favorite performance of the night!

Another standout performance for me during that segment was when Dana sang “Make Your Own Kind Of Music”, a song that was recorded by Mama Cass. I had never heard the song before. It’s now one of my new favorites! It made my heart feel so happy! I love the song’s message of being yourself no matter what everyone else says.

The app developers made another appearance in the second act. They appeared on the NTV news! They were having a little retreat at a bed and breakfast on Bell Island (John Elliott wrote most of his songs on the Virgin Islands. Not being able to afford something that extravagant, this was the closest the app developers could get!) They decided to dress like The Mamas & The Papas and do everything that they did… including the drugs! They were completely out of ‘er! High out of their minds! They sang a song for the TV viewers and It was hilarious watching them try to sing in that state!

One of the last few songs of the show was of course “Dream A Little Dream Of Me”. Kara and Dana sang it together. They both have gorgeous, jazzy voices and I loved how they sounded together singing this! It was one of the best covers of the song I’d ever heard!

For the finale of the show, they brought the house down with “Dancin’ In The Street”. The whole audience was dancing in their chairs! Then they did a reprise of “Make Your Own Kind Of Music”! I overflowed with happiness as I danced and sang along with both songs!

At the end of the show, after their absolutely beautiful performance of “Spirit of Newfoundland”, they mentioned that they had some friends in the audience! They gave me a shout-out and Dana even mentioned that I sell paintings to raise money for the Masonic Temple Restoration Fund (click here to view the Facebook page I have set up for my artwork!) Thank you very much for that plug Dana, I really appreciated it!

At the end of the night, Steven wanted to meet all my friends in the cast! He loves talking to and taking pictures with members of every tribute band that he sees. We got to see Dana and Keith. They posed for pictures with us and signed Steven’s program! He was very happy about that!

I also had a few special little things to leave behind. Something for Peter and something for Evan’s baby boy who should be arriving any day now! I hope that they like what I gave them!

“Dream A Little Dream Of We” was the best show I’ve seen this summer at Spirit. I highly recommend checking it out. For more information, call 579-3023, or click here to visit Spirit’s website. Until next time blog world, always remember

Make your own kind of music. Sing your own special song. Make your own kind of music, even if nobody else sings along.

Leah

Camping At Backside Pond Park


Hey blog world! What a week I had last week! I went with my family on our annual camping trip! This year, we went to Backside Pond Park near Green’s Harbor.

First of all, thank you to my uncle for allowing us to use his trailer! My family has one, but there is something wrong with it, I can’t remember exactly what. My uncle graciously allowed us to use his trailer that he keeps parked in Backside Pond Park.

We left for the camping trip on Monday night shortly after supper. It takes roughly an hour and a half to drive from CBS to Green’s Harbor, so Dad and I both packed some music for the ride! Two weeks ago, I was given a jump drive by my friend Walter who is somewhere in his 80’s. He said that it contained the music he used to listen to when he was growing up and he wanted me to have it. I made a mix CD using some of the songs on that jump drive so that we could listen to them on the way to the RV park.

The CD I made had a lot of great selections on it! A bit of everything, some swing music (“In The Mood” by the Andrews Sisters”), a little country (“Devil Woman” by Marty Robbins), even something silly and campy (“I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts”)! I was having a ball singing along with all the music, dad was enjoying it too, my 13 year old niece Samantha however, was having none of it. She was constantly complaining that she wanted to jump out the car window and that her ears were bleeding and she begged mom and dad to turn on 99.1 Hits FM! I was glad that Dad was enjoying my music and said he wanted to let the CD play through! Eventually he did turn on her station and now in a complete role switch, I was the one wanting to jump out the car window and feeling like my ears were bleeding! There are a few good artists on that station (I’m a big fan of Adele, Pink, Bruno Mars, Meghan Trainor and Ed Sheeran.) but 95% of what passes for music these days is just awful! I was glad when the signal cut out and all we could hear was static! Dad put on his Manfred Mann’s Earth Band CD for the rest of the trip.

When we arrived at my uncle’s camper and took a look inside, I was amazed! It was a very spacious trailer with plenty of room to move around, lots of beds, all the basic amenities, heat, electricity, a shower, lots of board games and two TV’s with DVD players and a Playstation complete with lots of movies and video games! Of course, while I was pleased to see all that cool stuff, I told myself that I was barely, if at all, going to use it. I wanted to take a break from technology and do outdoorsy things all week.

There was a lake just behind our campsite that I couldn’t wait to go swimming in and that’s just what I did on Tuesday morning after breakfast! It was a scorching day outside so I knew I had to get into that lake! I put on sunscreen and my bathing suit and was ready to go. Samantha and her friend McKenzie who she had invited to come camping with us wanted to try out my uncle’s kayaks so we all went to the lake together. When we got to the lake, dad got the kayaks all set for the girls and he asked if I wanted to go out in one too. I’ve never been that great at rowing boats, so I let the girls go out and have their fun, I just stuck to swimming.

Mom found a few blow up toys in the trailer and she brought them down to the lake for me to use. She unfortunately couldn’t find a pump to blow them up, so she blew them up herself, God love her! The first blow up thing that I used was a dolphin riding toy. As I was riding that dolphin around the lake I felt like Ariel! It was so much fun! After doing that for a while, my legs got a bit tired from all the pedaling I had to do to get the dolphin to move, so I went back to shore and exchanged the dolphin for an inner tube and went for a relaxing float.

Once I had finished with that, Samantha and McKenzie had come back to shore with the kayaks. Dad asked me again if I wanted to give it a go. I thought about saying no again, and almost did, but then I thought, I may never have this opportunity again, I should give it a shot. Even if I do suck at it, I’ll at least have a story to tell about the first time I ever went kayaking! Dad taught me how to row and then sent me off. It was not very good kayaking weather that day, it was quite windy and the water was choppy, there were a lot of waves. That made things really hard on me. I was having a very difficult time rowing the boat and didn’t get too far. My arms soon gave out on me, they were tired from all the rowing that I was doing, so I rowed back to shore.

Later that day, mom and I played bocce together. I am a member of the CBS Bright Stars Special Olympics bocce team. We have missed several practices recently because of bad weather, and I knew I was going to miss practice this week as I would be at the campsite, so, knowing I really needed to brush up on my skills and make up for what I missed, I brought my bocce set with me to the campsite. I taught mom what to do, then we played a game. She bet me 4-0! Even though I lost, I still had a lot of fun!

Supper that night was a BBQ, we had pork chops, baked potato, mushrooms, onions, all the good stuff! It was absolutely delicious! Desert was really yummy too! Dad lit a campfire and we roasted s’mores! Singing songs and roasting marshmallows around the campfire is one of my favorite parts of going camping!

On Wednesday, not much time was spent at the campsite. Shortly after dinner, we all piled in the car. We had some things we needed to get at home, and Samantha and her friend had a soccer game to go to, which they won 6-0! I was very proud of Samantha and her team! Go Strikers!!!

Thursday was a special day! Poppy came to spend the day with us! He sat and watched us all as our day was spent mostly playing badminton! Dad set up my badminton net and I had a few games with mom. There was a bit of wind and it would often take the birdie from us, but other than that I really enjoyed playing with mom. Badminton is one of my favorite sports. I played a few games against Sam and McKenzie as well. I lost most of those games, but didn’t care, I was having fun and trying my best! Later that day, McKenzie’s mom and younger brother came to visit us at our campsite and they got in on the action! We played several games of doubles, first it was myself and McKenzie’s brother against Samantha and McKenzie, then, I sat out for a while and watched as my mom and McKenzie’s mom (“The Mommy Meisters”) played against Samantha and McKenzie (“The Troublesome Teens”), I can’t remember the score exactly, but I do remember that The Troublesome Teens were the winners!

Badminton

Also that day, I spent some time sitting at our picnic table painting a picture. I always bring my paints, brushes and a canvas or two with me on camping trips. I love sitting outside and listening to the sounds of nature while I paint. It’s so relaxing! I decided to paint a stained glass image of flowers in a vase. I didn’t have a chance to finish it, but what I have done so far looks beautiful I think! I can’t wait to show it off once it’s complete!

Supper that evening was jiggs dinner! For those of you who have not heard of that, jiggs dinner (also known as boiled dinner or Sunday dinner) is a staple of the Newfoundland diet. It consists of salt beef, carrott, cabbage, potato, turnip and gravy. Also, some families like to include peas pudding, blueberry duff (a boiled blueberry cake) and turnip greens, when they are in season. My family also usually includes either roast beef or chicken. We didn’t have either of those this week, which disappointed me a little as I don’t like salt beef. Everything I did eat was good, especially the mashed potato!

It was windy and a little bit rainy that night, so we didn’t get to have a campfire. Instead, I made use of the TV in the room that I shared with Sam and McKenzie. I took a little trip to Mayberry, a place I hadn’t been in quite some time and had honestly forgotten how much I loved! “The Andy Griffith Show” is one of my all time favorite shows and I have many episodes on DVD. Having not watched any of them in quite some time, I thought it would be nice to bring one of those DVD’s to the campsite. By the time I had finished two episodes of the show, I had laughed and smiled so much that my cheeks and stomach were hurting! If you have never seen “The Andy Griffith Show”, I highly recommend you look it up on YouTube, it is good, clean, family fun that will make your heart feel warm and fuzzy and leave you in stitches!

On Friday, mom and dad and I went for a walk. We decided to go on the hiking trail nearby the playground. It was not the most fun I ever had! The trail was covered in muck and guck! I tried to dodge it as much as I could, but I still managed to get the soles of my sneakers, my socks and my ankles covered in mud and dirt!

We were told, by a stranger we met the day before near the entrance to the park that the trail would take us directly to Drover’s, a store that, according to him had the best custard cones ever! I was very eager to go there and see for myself! We walked the length of the trail and came out somewhere in Green’s Harbor, we continued walking and still couldn’t find Drover’s. We stopped several people to ask them for directions and they did not know where it was. I was beginning to wonder if this place still existed! The man we met had said it’d been 15 years since he’d last been there. We eventually stopped looking, turned around and walked back to the campsite.

After we had our supper, we decided to go out and look for Drover’s again, but this time, we’d go by car. We all piled into the car and set off hoping to find it. Eventually we did! I was very happy that it did indeed exist and we were finally there. We went inside and had a look at their ice cream selections. They didn’t have what I was used to, there was no plain vanilla or twist soft serve, they carried only “flavor burst” soft serve ice creams, which I had never heard of before. According to my niece, it’s vanilla soft serve, with flavoring around the edges of the cone. There were a lot of flavors to choose from, blue goo, strawberry, maple, orange, etc. I decided to go with chocolate as it was as close as I was going to get to a twist. I liked the vanilla soft serve, it was one of the best I’d ever had, the chocolate flavor burst wasn’t good but it wasn’t bad either. I think I will stick to twist from now on.

On Saturday, mom wanted to have a turn in the kayak and dad asked me if I wanted to have another try. The water was calmer and there wasn’t nearly as much wind as there was on Tuesday, so I decided to get into the kayak again. It was a lot easier this time and I quite enjoyed myself! Even so, I lasted only about 10 minutes in the kayak before I rowed back to shore because my arms were killing me! Rowing a kayak is hard work!

Kayaking

We went for another walk later that day, this time we went to the Jimmy Rowe walking trail in Whiteway. There was no muck and guck on that trail! Thank God!!

Walk

At the end of the trail, we found Drover’s! We decided to stop in again for ice cream. We all had hard ice cream this time, I opted for cookie dough. It was delicious!

Sunday was our last day camping. We packed up all our things, got in the car, put on The Mamas & The Papas and set out on the road. We decided to make one more stop before returning home. We went to Brown’s, a restaurant in Whiteway, for dinner. They have the best fish and chips ever! The batter on the fish was so nice and light and the fish itself was very fresh, perfectly cooked, I loved everything about it. The cheesecake I had for desert was to die for! So soft, creamy and absolutely heavenly! I will certainly go back again if I am ever in the area.

Last week was the best week of my summer so far, full of so many new adventures and memories that I’ll cherish forever.

Leah

Stand By Your Nan


Hey blog world! Last Saturday was absolutely wonderful! I spent the whole day with some of my closest and best friends! I spent all afternoon and part of the evening working at Spirit of Newfoundland where I polished the silverware, folded the napkins, replaced all the burnt out tealights, overall was flat out busy prepping the dining room for that evening’s performance. I loved every minute of it! After my shift, I got to stay behind and watch the show! Playing that night was Spirit’s newest summer show, “Stand By Your Nan” a celebration of 60 years of St. Patrick’s Mercy Home.

My date to the show  was my new Best Buddy, Kelly. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Best Buddies, it is a non-profit organization that pairs students up with individuals like myself who have an intellectual disability and we hang out together. Myself and Kelly are members of the MUN chapter of Best Buddies (which by the way is still looking for volunteers!!!! To find out more about how you can join, email them at munbestbuddies@gmail.com or send them a message on Facebook. Click here to visit their page!) and we were paired up together two weeks ago. I couldn’t wait to start hanging out with her and was so excited to finally have the chance to do so that night!

When she arrived, we sat in the bar and had a chat. We talked about all sorts of things, work, school, love and my experience in the hospital last year (which you can read about here). She had some very funny and interesting stories and I really enjoyed getting to know more about her.

Shortly after, we entered the dining room and sat at our table and had some of Spirit’s homemade sourdough bread. I’d been looking forward to that since I placed all the breadbaskets on the tables earlier that evening. It looks, smells and tastes absolutely delicious! It’s even better paired with Spirit’s home made whipped butter!

Our appetizer this evening was a Campania citrus salad with mixed greens, house pickled beets, cheery tomato, shaved cucumber and fresh mozzarella with a sweet and tangy citrus vinaigrette. I’m not a fan of beets, but other than that everything else was very tasty!

Salad

For the main course, Kelly and I both opted for the lime glazed Atlantic salmon with charred pineapple salsa and dill cream. I can’t comment on the pineapple salsa because I am not a fan of pineapple so I ate around that, but the salmon was very nice! It was cooked perfectly. The dill cream paired well with the flavor of the salmon. I really enjoyed the carrots and string beans as well. I wasn’t particularly fond of the hassleback potato (I can’t quite put it to words, I just wasn’t a fan of the texture or the taste), but Kelly enjoyed it, and I’m sure many others in the audience did as well. Salmon

Shortly after we ate, the show began. Keith Power started off the show carrying the banner as a newsie out selling his papers (gold star for you if you caught the reference I just made! If you didn’t, click here to get up to speed). I liked the little song he sang about the news that was going on, how they are building a new home for seniors. It was very upbeat and catchy! Newsboy Keith made several appearances throughout the show and each time he brought a big smile to my face! Especially right before the intermission! That was really funny!

Extra, extra, we’re taking a break now! But mostly because I gotta pee!

John Williams played a reporter with VOCM news. He reported on the new home, who will run it, how many beds, etc. One piece of news that he reported that I thought was very interesting was the cent-a-meal initiative. Every family in St. John’s was given a decorative box that they were to put a penny in at every meal. The money would then be used to construct the nursing home. I can’t remember exactly how much it raised, but I know it was over $2,000. It amazed me how the city came together to build this home.

A little later in the show, once the home had opened, VOCM news played some songs of welcome for the new residents. John Williams sang “Twilight Time” while Erin Winsor, Kara Noftle and Leslie Stuckless sang backup. I love John’s voice. Whenever he sings I feel very calm, relaxed and peaceful. I hope he someday records a CD! I would be one of the first to buy it to add to my bedtime collection (I like to fall asleep listening to soft, slow, calming music). Kara, Erin and Leslie have beautiful voices as well! They did a marvelous job of performing “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree” and “Love Me Tender”.

Speaking of Kara, she, Keith and John did a very nice scene together. Kara’s mother (unseen because she was upstairs napping) was going to move into St. Pat’s the next day. Keith, who was playing Kara’s young son, decided to get out his autoharp and play nanny her favorite song! How sweet is that. Kara joined in with him. The song they sang was an old Irish song, “The Spinning Wheel”. It sounded so pretty when Kara sang, it was even lovelier when Keith and John joined in and harmonized on the chorus!

A subplot of the show was a young girl named Molly, played by Erin Winsor was an aspiring journalist (a girl after my own heart!!) and in order to win a scholarship to a journalism school she had to write a story about the 60th anniversary of St. Pat’s Mercy Home, which she was not excited to do! To cheer her up, her mother (Leslie Stuckless) passed Molly her hairbrush and sang a song with her. The song they sang, “Friendship” brought me back to my childhood! I hadn’t heard that song since I was very little! I used to love Disney Sing Along Songs videos and had a large collection of those VHS tapes. That song was on one of them (specifically, “Friend Like Me” from 1993 click here to see a clip!) As they sang, I had a flashback to when I was little and would watch those tapes over and over again.

A little later, Molly and her friend Travis visit St. Pat’s so she can get some information for her project. Travis begins talking to the nurses (Leslie and Kara) as if he’s known them all his life! He mentions the concert they have coming up to celebrate the anniversary and poor Kara is really  nervous to perform! She was shaking and wanting to throw up. What a sin.

After talking to the nurses, they go on to visit a few of the residents in the home. One in particular, I believe her name was Gertrude (correct me if I’m wrong), made quite an impact on Molly. She had so many amazing stories and thought that the lady was pretty cool. This woman had a diary full of stories from her past… which Travis stole while he made his way to the bathroom. Real classy buddy! He gave the diary to Molly in hopes that the information contained inside could help her out with her project. That added an extra layer of suspense and excitement to the show! I was already wondering how Travis knows everyone like the back of his hand, now I was really on the edge of my seat! I wondered would the lady find out that her journal was missing and would Molly give it back?

After the first act of the show, we had desert! Usually, Spirit serves screech cake for desert, drizzled with screech caramel sauce. This summer, they are still serving screech cake, but with a twist! Chef Alex has created a delightful screech cake trifle! Screech cake, wild Newfoundland berries and caramel sauce all topped off with whipped cream! Myself and Kelly both couldn’t get over how delicious it was!

Trifle

In the second act of the show, we got to go to a garden party at St. Pat’s! It started with John Williams singing “Garden Party” by Ricky Nelson, which I loved! Then, things got even better when Keith Power, portraying local Newfoundland musician John White, came out on stage and sang “Excursion Around The Bay”. The room came alive with singing, clapping and laughter! I really liked that they got the audience involved in this song. They taught us the chorus and had us sing along. They also split us down the middle and gave each side their own part. The right side of the room sang “Oh me!” and the left side, where me and Kelly were sitting sang “Oh my!” There were a lot of great voices in the crowd! Everyone did a fantastic job!

There were nuns in the second act as well. They were having a little service at St. Pat’s. Leslie was one of those nun’s. She is the newest member of the Spirit family. I had met her once, very briefly at Peter’s house when I delivered homemade fudge to a rehearsal for this show. She is a lovely person. I was looking forward to hearing her sing. When she sang “Bless This House” I was blown away! What an incredible voice she has! I was completely speechless when she had finished singing. I hope I’ll get to see her perform again someday soon.

Later, Molly discovers by reading Gertrude’s diary that people have had experiences with ghosts! The administrative office is now where the morgue once was. She discovers this as she is on the phone with Travis… who is in the administrative office!! The poor soul was petrified! Even more so when he had an encounter with one of the ghosts! Spooky music began to play and then Bill Brennan, the pianist, slowly made his way to the stage, draped in a gray cape. It was all very spooky. He frightened the living daylights out of poor Keith! I thought that was funny!

She also reads an entry where Gertrude reminisces about her favorite song and then Erin begins to sing it. I’m telling you, I have heard many, many people sing “Tennessee Waltz” and this by far was the most beautiful and breathtaking performance of the song I have ever heard! I had goosebumps at the end of it!

Near the end of the show, we learn that the reason Travis knows everyone at St. Pat’s and knows everything about it is because he has been volunteering there for three years. He’s just not been wanting to say it because he was afraid of what his friends may think of him having 70+ year old people as his friends. Molly thought it was sweet. I did too. In fact, I’m just like Travis, most of my friends are of that age range. Here’s a picture of me and one of my best and closest friends, Gerry Russell who is 79 years young.

Stuffy at SUF

He and I frequent open mic nights in and around CBS and St. John’s and perform together quite often, he’ll play the accordion and I’ll sing. Stand By Your Pop doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but all the same, Gerry is like a grandfather to me and I’ll always stand by him no matter what.

To end the show, we got to see the nurses in concert. They sang “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”! Kara’s character managed to get over her nerves and absolutely slayed the performance! As did Leslie! Keith joined in too and all three of them together brought the house down! I had so much fun dancing and singing along!

At the end of the night, I got to introduce Kelly to all my friends in the cast and the band! She loved getting to meet them all! Stuffy, my dragon friend got in on the fun too. We got pictures with some of the cast members!

Stuffy and Keith

Stuffy and I with Keith Power

Stuffy and John

Kelly, Stuffy and I with John Williams

Stuffy and Peter

Kelly, Stuffy and I with Spirit’s president and artistic director, Peter Halley!

Also, just for a laugh, to see what he’d say, I asked Peter if there were any job openings for Stuffy at Spirit. Unfortunately, Spirit is not hiring stuffed dragons at this time. Oh well, Stuffy will keep looking! (Poor guy lost his job recently, after five seasons on Disney Jr., “Doc McStuffins”, the cartoon that Stuffy was a part of, has been cancelled)

Kelly and I both had a fantastic evening! I’m so thrilled that she enjoyed her first Spirit of Newfoundland show! We will see many more of them together I’m sure! I highly recommend seeing “Stand By Your Nan”. It is such a funny and heartwarming show! For more information or to make a reservation, call 579-3023 or click here to visit their website! Until next time blog world, always remember

Stand by your nan, give her two arms to cling to and something warm to come to when nights are cold and lonely. Stand by your nan and show the world you love her! Keep giving all the love you can! Stand by your nan.

Leah